Date to start natural gas drilling up in the air

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    During the last few years, the city of Fort Worth, Tarrant County College and communities around the Dallas/Fort Worth area have pursued natural gas drilling into the Barnett Shale. TCU was supposed to follow their lead later this month.

    A news release from the Energy Institute posted on the university’s Web site at the beginning of January said natural gas drilling would occur north of Amon G. Carter Stadium in the remote campus parking lot later this month.

    However, Chesapeake Energy, the drilling company working with TCU, continues to assess its drilling options, said Tracy Syler-Jones, associate vice chancellor for marketing and communication. Chesapeake Energy would not comment on the latest issues regarding the drilling and deferred questions to Syler-Jones.

    Syler-Jones said no tentative date has been set, but the drilling is expected to be operational sometime this year through 2010.

    She said concerns voiced by residents in the surrounding areas have prevented the university from moving forward with the drilling. Although the university plans to drill for natural gas over the next two years, none will take place during football season, according to a news release from the university.

    The U.S. Geological Survey describes the Barnett Shale as a field of bedrock underneath the earth’s surface containing as much as 26 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, covering 500,000 acres and eight counties. Since 1980, it has become the second largest on-shore gas-producing field in the U.S., according to the survey.

    Recently, the Dallas/Fort Worth area has become a hot spot for natural gas drilling.

    In June 2007, TCU announced that it signed a lease with Four Sevens Oil Co. to assess the prospect of drilling on campus. According to a news release from the Office of Communications, the lease was transferred to Chesapeake Energy in November.

    Brian Gutierrez, vice chancellor for finance and administration, said in a news release this fall that the lease was negotiated only after all areas of concern were discussed. The university addressed the issue with neighborhood leaders, faculty, staff and students, Gutierrez said in the release.

    He could not be reached this week for further comment.

    The Board of Trustees decided last spring that all money made from natural gas would be placed in the university’s endowment, according to an Office of Communications news release earlier this month.

    The university has not released expected revenue amounts to the public.

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